Sunday, 17 June 2007


Kundun, Tibetan for "the presence", is the title by which the Dalai Lama is addressed. The 14th and current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso visited Australia from 06/06/2007 to 16/06/2007. We had the opportunity to listen to the Dalai Lama's talk in The Domain, Sydney.

We arrived late at the venue, so we walked around looking for a good spot to view the screen and listen to the Dalai Lama. The first thing that struck me as we made our way past the throng was how familiar the Dalai Lama's voice sounded. I could have heard his voice on television; I don't remember. It is the voice of Buddhist monks - calm, soothing, yet compelling you to listen - the sound of gentle waves lapping. On a deeper level, it is the voice that I imagine my paternal grandfather had - the grandfather I have never seen in life but in photos, whom my grandmother and parents speak of with such admiration.

Incidentally, the Dalai Lama's tinted glasses and face shape remind me of two people, one of which is my paternal grandfather.

The Dalai Lama spoke on the power of compassion. It moved me so much that I cried. The Dalai Lama talked not of religion but of what could bring people inner peace and what could make the world a better place.

The Dalai Lama didn't pretend to know all the answers, too. The host asked the Dalai Lama to describe the meaning of life in the Dalai Lama's own words. The Dalai Lama scratched his head, and looked absorbed in thought, and yet genuinely perplexed, and replied a simple "I don't know".

The Dalai Lama said that perhaps the meaning of life is happiness.

I looked around. I saw adults listening to the Dalai Lama, children playing in the mud, babies in their prams. Everyone seemed happy. I thought of myself, am I happy?

My reply is a simple "I don't know".


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